A blueprint of Saudi English typology: A substrate effect

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Maather AlRawi
Nuha AlShurafa
Tariq Elyas
Abdulrahman Alqurashi


Although some Englishes in Asia have received extensive attention, the grammar of Saudi English remains relatively unexamined. It remains unclear whether the Saudi English grammatical (or morphosyntactic) patterns derive from universal principles. Al-Rawi (2012); Mahboob and Elyas (2014) seem to provide an individual description. This paper is an attempt to provide an analysis for the morphosyntactic features of the variety of English in Saudi Arabia from a global approach by adopting Kortmann and Szmrecsanyi (2004) geographic and variety-specific perspectives. Our findings show that Saudi English has 7 distinctive features. Four of them are universal. Due to the limitations in covering all the distinctive features and due the clear analogy between these features and the substrate Arabic patterns, we argue that the distinctive features are simply the result of the substrate influence rather than universal principles that derive these deviant forms


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AlRawi, M. ., AlShurafa, N. ., Elyas, T., & Alqurashi , A. . (2022). A blueprint of Saudi English typology: A substrate effect. Focus on ELT Journal, 4(2), 1–17. https://doi.org/10.14744/felt.2022.4.2.1
Author Biographies

Maather AlRawi, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Bio: Maather Alrawi is an Associate Professor of Linguistics at King Abdulaziz University (KAU), Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Her research interests include language typology, English Globalisation, Error Analysis and Syntactic Theory (the Minimalist Program) with particular focus on A/A’-movement, Phase Theory, Null Subject Parameter, and the cartography of syntactic structures. She is also interested in the syntax of Semitic languages including the Standard and modern Arabic dialects and Austronesian (Indonesian).

Nuha AlShurafa, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Nuha suleiman Alshurafa is a Professor of Linguistics at King Abdulaziz University (KAU), Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. She holds a BA in English language and literature (from London university, UK 1980). She holds an MA in English Linguistics (from Bath university-UK in 1981) and a PhD in Functional and theoretical Linguistics (from Manchester university-UK in 1988). Professor Alshurafa held the post of head of the English department in faculty of arts and humanities at king Abdul-Aziz university (KAU) in 1999-2000, and the post of Vice-Dean of the English institute at KAU university in 2006-2007. She is now a member of the editorial-committee of the faculty of Arts and Humanities journal in KAU. She has over 30 published linguistic articles in different linguistic journals. Professor Alshurafa’s areas of interests include Standard Arabic and the dialects structural analysis, Language Identity, World Englishes, Women Studies, and Theoretical linguistics and the lexical competence of Arabic speakers. Her articles have appeared in various linguistic journals such as: British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies; The Buckingham Journal of Language and Linguistics among many others.

Tariq Elyas, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Tariq Elyas is a Full Professor of Applied Linguistics at King Abdulaziz University-KAU (Saudi Arabia). He holds an MA in English Literature (USA) and a PhD in Applied Linguistics (Australia). Prof. Elyas was awarded the British Chevening Fellowship in International Law & Human Rights (UK) as well as a Post-Doctorate in Applied Linguistics from the British Commonwealth Council (UK). Prof. Elyas’s areas of interests include Global English, Teacher Identity, Policy Reform, Media Studies, and Women Studies in the Middle East. His research papers have appeared in leading international journals such as British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Digest of Middle East Studies, Contemporary Review of the Middle East, Journal of Arab & Muslim Media Research, Semiotica, World Englishes, Asian Englishes, Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, Journal of Neurolinguistics, Sexuality and Culture, as well as ELT Journal. Prof. Elyas has been awarded the Bundey Prize for English Verse (Australia); Travel Writing Fellowship (USA); Cambridge Gulf Research Award (UK); Reviewer of the Year-Emerald Publisher (UK); EU-GCC Relations Project Award (Belgium); and the Best Supervisor Award in the Humanities & Social Sciences Track-KAU in 2018 and 2020 (Saudi Arabia). Prof. Elyas has guest-edited three special issues: 1) ‘World Englishes in MENA’ (with Ahmar Mahboob) in World Englishes; 2) ‘Gender in Language Education’ (with Handoyo Puji Widodo) in Sexuality & Culture; and 3) ‘English Language Education: A Critical Global Englishes Perspective’ (with Fan Fang and Handoyo Puji Widodo) in Asian Englishes. His latest book was an edited volume (co-edited with Dr Ahmar Mahboob) entitled Educational Challenges during the GCC in the 21st Century (Cambridge Scholars Publisher). Prof. Elyas has been the most highly cited author in Saudi Arabia in the fields of Education and Applied Linguistics since 2014. Prof. Elyas has served as an external examiner for (24) PhD students from Australia, Malaysia, UAE, UK, and Saudi Arabia. Also, Prof. Elyas has worked in numerous educational posts in Australia, UK, USA and Saudi Arabia. Currently, Prof. Elyas has been assigned as the Associate Editor for Wiley Encyclopedia of World Englishes- MENA region.


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